Image: McDonald's
John Kuntz  /  AP
The McDonald's restaurant in the Cleveland Clinic hospital, the nation's No. 1 heart center, has agreed to bring in healthy foods not available at other locations.
updated 7/22/2005 8:06:10 PM ET 2005-07-23T00:06:10

The McDonald's restaurant in the food court at one of the nation's top heart hospitals is now offering up veggie burgers and carrot sticks.

And both sides say the tension is easing over whether cheeseburgers and fries belong in a place where patients struggling with coronary artery disease are trying to avoid fast food.

"We are generally pleased with the progress that has been made so far and will continue to work toward improvements on menu items and cooking techniques," Cleveland Clinic spokeswoman Eileen Sheil said.

Cardiac surgeon Toby Cosgrove, who is also the hospital's chief executive officer, questioned last year whether the fast-food restaurant belonged at the Cleveland Clinic.

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McDonald's has about nine years left on a 20-year lease, and the disagreement over whether it should remain there resulted in several meetings involving hospital officials and executives from the Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald's Corp.

The hospital and McDonald's issued statements of conciliation Friday, after Cosgrove was quoted in The Plain Dealer saying that he met with McDonald's officials a few months ago and told them he would love for the McDonald's to stay "if they clean up their act."

Cleveland Clinic spokeswoman Eileen Sheil said Cosgrove was unavailable for comment Friday.

Turan Strange, the owner of the McDonald's franchise at the Cleveland Clinic, said that the restaurant has satisfied the Clinic's concerns.

"I've said all along, we value our relationship with the Cleveland Clinic and welcome the opportunity to help our customers understand how our menu can fit into a balanced, active lifestyle," Strange said.

A fruit and walnut salad, which can now be found at McDonald's restaurants elsewhere, were first offered at the Cleveland Clinic in part because of the company's discussions with the hospital, McDonald's corporate spokesman Bill Whitman said.

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